Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Generosity Project

We went on a 14 hour car drive last week to take the kiddos up to see my folks for Thanksgiving. It was nice. I haven't been "home" for the holidays for 10 years. While I was waiting to get one of the best sandwiches ever in the poe-dunk town I grew up in I noticed a little giving tree overflowing with needs. I started looking at them and noticed how many of the children needed all the necessities--socks, underwear, shoes, boots (it is a pretty harsh climate), coat, shirt, pants, and some listed a single toy.

I remember going to school with kids who wore the same outfit every single day--and they smelled like it too. We drove around and noticed the houses or mere shacks that were often missing windows, had dilapidated roofs and may or may not have had running water and electricity. We also noticed a few toys and realized their were kids living inside.

As I was looking through the ads before Black Friday I noticed some things that were great deals that I wanted and was starting to put these items on my mental wish list. I started to feel guilty as I thought about all of the kids in this one community who would probably go without. There were so many names on that one tree and I found out all of the names aren't taken every year. How would that feel to be left out? Forgotten? Cold?

I was talking with some people and they said they wished they could do more to help these kids but they couldn't and I didn't say this out loud but I am now, "Why can't you do more?"

Since we left, I've been thinking more and more about what we can do without this Christmas and throughout the year so that we will have more to give. What good is it to be celebrating our Savior's birth around a cozy fire and nice things when a child is sitting in the cold probably counting down the days till they are back in school with a school lunch in their belly?

This Christmas season I'm going to forgo the little extras, the little niceties that really just waste money and take up more time. I'm going to bake a few less of our traditional treats and spend that time reading stories to my kids and playing ponies with them. I'm going to wish the people I forgot to get gifts for (happens every year) a Merry Christmas via text or a phone call instead of rushing out and getting a guilty gift and seeing too many great deals and purchasing those too. Next year I'm going to look for deals on clothing to buy for these kids so my money can go farther. I'm not going to give as much in my comfortable, affluent suburbia community where the wish lists hardly ever list clothes but several toys. Instead I'm going to look further for those who need it most.

We already cut back a lot in our family the last few years. Our kids just get 3 gifts--symbolic of the Savior receiving 3 gifts from the wise men. Next year I am going to find ways to cut back even more throughout the year on everything. Each purchase I make will have a heavier weight--do I really need this or can I use my money instead to help a child?

So the question is "Who's with me?"

If you want to join me in this Generosity Project then please feel free to comment what you and/or your family will do without so you are better able to give to those in your own communities. Feel free to be anonymous if you wish. Come back often. I hope this helps you to have greater peace and happiness in your life to live with a little less and give even more.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Joy to the World Freebie & Neighbor Gift ideas

November was supposed to be my slow month. I was going to relax--which is almost unheard of for me. But....I got roped into a few more obligations. They have been awesome but I am looking forward to them being done too. :)

For a Relief Society (church) event I made a bunch of neighbor gifts to give people ideas (even though my neighbor gifts have been done for months!) :)

Click here to download the 4x6 freebie of the below picture

I saw these reindeer and snowman at here and here respectively. Of course I had to do mine with felt instead of wood cutouts for the noses. (i have a slight felt addiction)

Photo props. LOVE these! So excited to give these away and use my set. I used oatmeal containers and lazily taped on some scrapbook paper. Got dowel sticks precut at walmart (the hubby was happy he didn't have to cut them) and hot glued on the shapes. I printed off bow ties that you can find in my shop (and laminated them because I'm also addicted to laminating), and cut out mustaches, a monacle, and lips out of felt and foam. I used regular felt and then stiffened it myself with equal parts water and glue. I won't say that I wouldn't do that method again but it would have been nice using pre-stiffened felt. I'm glad I didn't have to pay for such pre-stiffened felt though. :)

Click here to download the jpg file (for free) of the shapes to cutout your own stuff.

I LOVE the idea of sending a game to encourage some family time. I can't wait to play this one with my kids. Find it here. I simply laminated. I didn't see the need to spend way more time and money to make it marginally cuter.

Magnets. I know I should have cropped these pictures but alas I am running out of time and eating pumpkin roll and playing dungeon siege II with the hubby sounds way more fun. :)
I saw these fun magnets and decided to do my own Christmas versions--of course out of felt. They came together super quick one afternoon while I was doing my mom duties. Start to finish I made 16 in one afternoon while the kiddos were awake.  

I hope you found a fun idea here. Less than a week till I eat turkey! Woohoo!!!